2021 Canada $20 Generations: Inuit Nunangat Fine Silver (No Tax)
The Legend of the Sea Goddess
Nuliajuk was a beautiful girl who had refused many offers of marriage. One day, a young hunter arrived at her father's camp; dressed in warm furs, he spoke in a soft voice and promised to provide Nuliajuk with a good home and animals for food and clothing. He kept his face hidden under his hood but Nuliajuk was sufficiently impressed with him, and she agreed to marry him.
When she arrived at her new home on a remote island, Nuliajuk discovered that her husband was not a man but a bird. Cold and hungry, she cried out for her father to come save her. But as she and her father paddled away, they were caught in a strong wind created by the bird's furious wingbeats. Fearing for his life, Nuliajuk's father threw her over the side of the umiak. She tried to save herself by holding on, but her father cut off her fingers and she fell into the water.
As she sank to the bottom of the ocean, her fingers and hands took the form of different marine mammals and she became the Sea Goddess. Hunters came to depend on her goodwill: when humans transgress the laws of nature, the Sea Goddess keeps her children (the sea animals) away, and the Angakkuq (shaman) must appease her by combing her hair.
A New Series from the Royal Canadian Mint! For the First Peoples of Canada, relaying an age-old story is a lesson in itself – and that is the focus of our new Generations series. In repeating legends and myths, one generation sets an example for the next one, entrusting them with tales that are now theirs to tell and move forward through time.
The first story comes from Inuit Nunangat, where unikkaaqtuat ("myths" in Inuktut) play an important role in the transmission of knowledge and values. Depicted on this 99.99% pure silver coin, the well-known legend of the Sea Goddess continues to inform new generations and inspire artists such as Jason Sikoak, who designed this coin.
Designed by Nunatsiavut artist Jason Sikoak, your coin's reverse highlights a widely known legend from Inuit Nunangat, the homeland of Inuit in Canada. It is the story of the Sea Goddess, also known as Nuliajuk; tossed into the ocean, the long-haired Inuk becomes half-woman and half-fish as she slips deeper beneath the waves, while her fingers take the form of seals that represent all marine mammals. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
Item Number: 201525
Composition: 99.99% pure silver
Face Value: $20.00
Weight: 31.39 g
Diameter: 38 mm
Artist: Jason Sikoak
• The new Generations series celebrates the art of gifting knowledge through the stories of the First Peoples of Canada. Issued annually, each coin travels to a different region of Canada to highlight a legend that has been told and retold since time immemorial.
• The first legend comes from the four regions of Canada that are collectively known as Inuit Nunangat, which is indicated on the coin's reverse. It is the tale of a beautiful Inuk who became the Sea Goddess and mother of all marine mammals after she was tossed into the ocean.
• This is the Royal Canadian Mint's first collaboration with Nunatsiavut artist Jason Sikoak, who designed your coin's reverse.
• In oral tradition, there is the expectation that the listener will share the story with others – and we encourage collectors to do the same with these coins. By combining Indigenous stories and art, this series is our way of honouring Indigenous storytellers and the role they play in sharing traditional knowledge with new generations.
The coin is encapsulated and presented in a black Royal Canadian Mint-branded clamshell with a black beauty box.